Friday, September 8, 2017

The god That Fails Over And Over Again

I knew about the Turkey Point nuclear plant in Florida, I'm pretty sure I didn't know about the St. Lucie nuke.  Now that they're having to be shut down in preparation for hurricane Irma we should all pray that they don't become monuments to the stupidity of ignoring the propensity of scientists and engineers to lie optimistically on behalf of profit making enterprises.   Who knows how dangerous it is to have those plants where they are, on the flood plane that most of Florida is.  I remember when I was a child my Florida cousins telling us that the lowest hill in their town, more a slight incline than a hill, was called "thrill hill" out of sarcasm.  I'm going to be praying a lot for the next days for the people of Florida which, if one or the other of those nukes goes Fukushima or worse, will be a lot more sensible than relying on the judgement of the great and powerful "science" which is never any better than the extent to which scientists tell the hard truth.   Obviously the science that led to them putting nuclear power plants on Florida, waving aside any troubling questions about that, won over science that might have said it was dangerous.

On the other hand, unprofitable science, the most important science we have, environmental science, has been ignored because it is not the handmaiden of the real God of materialism, money.   Science is as vulnerable to corruption as any other human activity, what is profitable about it is probably more corruptible than much of religion because science is an intellectual activity, along with commerce, which we have been duped into removing from a consideration of the morality of what it does.  In the end, such science is "just business".   

One of the stupidest things about modernism is its worship of knowledge as the ultimate good as if knowledge divorced from morality were not even more dangerous and productive of enormous evil because it is efficacious.  I really, really, don't want to be proven right that this might turn into one of the most costly of all demonstrations of the stupidity of letting scientists and engineers and businessmen and billionaires off the hook for acting morally, of letting judges and politicians let them off the hook because our legal code and Constitution is written in a particularly stupid way that leaves that out.  The Founders had a ridiculous faith in the scientific view of such things, they seem to have struck a pose that such moral issues would just take care of themselves according to some law of nature, as if such "laws" wouldn't have produced the entire history of human depravity, violence, oppression and murder when things were. as it were,  just left to work themselves out. 

The pretense that human actions are not a product of human intention and that any good that people do comes about as the product of human choices, not due to some instinct inserted into us by what we imagine as nature, certainly not in any dependable way to have before now, or 1787, prevented depravity.   What seems to be more dependable is such assumptions producing depravity, when that depravity has the power of nuclear physics behind it, potentially gargantuan depravity. 

If you want another example of that kind of thinking, here's a seismic chart of North Korean nuclear weapons tests.   Remember, this is, also, a product of science divorced from moral considerations. 

I will bet you that if any of the North Korean scientists were freed up to take jobs in the West, in Western industry or the academic-industrial complex, their giving the ultra-Stalinist government in North Korea atom and hydrogen bombs wouldn't be held against them.  The scientific establishment has given Nobel and other prizes and honors to scientists who have made their career on weaponeering of the worst kind. 

Turning the very partial, very limited, very lopsided view of nature that science gives us into a god was always a benighted project, especially when that idol of nature is a very partial and very limited view of the natural universe.   Pretending that science produces a comprehensive knowledge of reality, something which many of the great scientists rejected and some still reject, strikes me as an act profoundly unscientific.  If there is one thing that science should depend on, it is a realistic view of what it does, what it doesn't do, what it can and what it can't do.   One of the things it can't do is save us from the products of science.  Depending on scientists to do that is as stupid as depending on businessmen or generals or Supreme Court justices to do it.  I think we're going to be finding out just how tragically wrong that choice was.   I fear that we will. 

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